Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) technology is becoming central for Information Systems (IS) research. However, existing studies in IS fall short of providing insights into how the IVR experience becomes meaningful for end-users. To increase granularity and specificity in this regard, researchers have suggested that the IVR experience can become meaningful due to its fleeting feeling of escapism. In this paper, I explore and characterize how individuals use the IVR experience to create meaning in the context of meaningful escapism, by undertaking a phenomenology inspired inquiry, based on Heideggerian views on meaning, meaningfulness, and world. Interviews and analysis were conducted within an empirical case of IVR fire safety training. As a result, four characteristics of the IVR experience as a meaningful form of escapism were unveiled: a sense of content, a sense of familiarity, a sense of mood, and a sense of care. Throughout this study, I offer a nuanced perspective on how the characteristics contribute to clarifying the distinctions and relationship between meaning and meaningfulness, as well as how the IVR experience becomes a meaningful escapism that provides an alternative of individual’s being-in-the-world, into a being-in-the-virtual-world, also known as Virtual Dasein. Further, this study contributes to the IS field by advancing the current discourse on IVR research and escapism, from a phenomenological perspective.
Haj-Bolouri, A. (2023). The Experience of Immersive Virtual Reality: A Phenomenology Inspired Inquiry. Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 52, 782-814. https://doi.org/10.17705/1CAIS.05238
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